Parishes pool capital campaigns with archdiocese

Mary Our Queen Parish in Omaha needed to shore up endowment funds.

St. Gerald Parish in Ralston needed repairs to its 55-year-old school building.

Both parishes turned to campaign drives to raise money for their needs. But they combined their parish campaigns with the archdiocese’s Ignite the Faith capital campaign – and saved valuable resources, parish leaders said.

Parishes throughout the archdiocese are rallying volunteers to participate in the $40 million Ignite the Faith campaign, raising money to support Catholic schools, parish religious education programs, vocations and priests in their retirement.

Mary Our Queen and St. Gerald are two parishes capitalizing on the archdiocese’s campaign by combining it with their own efforts, and others are considering a combined campaign, said Shannan Brommer, director of the archdiocese’s Stewardship and Development Office.

Combining the parish campaign with the broader effort saved Mary Our Queen’s parishioners time, energy and labor, said Father Robert English, pastor. "It saved us from doing it twice, setting up two organized efforts."

Brommer said the combined campaigns are "a great opportunity to maximize leadership and participation."

Mary Our Queen began asking for campaign pledges the day after the parish’s 50th anniversary celebration June 16 and continued through mid-December. And parishioners have pledged to make donations over three years.

A core of 61 families served as campaign chairs, captains and volunteers who helped with planning, personal appeals and phone calls. They contacted about 2,300 prospective donors and received about $2.8 million in pledges for the combined campaign, close to the parish goal of nearly $2.9 million, Father English said.

Of the money they raise, $1.2 million will be set aside for the archdiocese’s capital campaign fund; nearly $90,000 to the 2013-14 Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, which was combined into the campaign; and $1.5 million to the parish’s Educational Trust Fund.

St. Gerald began its five-year, $2.6 million "Forge a Future of Faith" campaign in January and has reached $2.15 million in pledges, said Father Owen Korte, pastor.

The parish plans to contribute about $1.4 million to the archdiocese’s campaign and the rest of what it raises for improvements to St. Gerald School’s heating and air conditioning system, roof, windows and doors and some painting and repairs to the church’s doors and windows.

St. Gerald is likely to reach its first three goals and raise $2.29 million in pledges by the time the effort ends May 31, but might not hit the fourth "Miracle Goal" of the full $2.6 million, Father Korte said. That means a restroom renovation at the school probably will have to wait, he said.

Parishioners knew the school and church buildings needed work – "It’s not a glorious thing but a necessary thing," Father Korte said – and they stepped up for the campaign.

"I’m especially happy with the work people have done," he said. "It’s work – good, hard work."

About 75 parishioners organized the funding push, made phone calls and visited with people one-on-one, sometimes at their kitchen tables, he said. They were led by parishioners Nick and Kathy Steinback, Dan and Leslie Thiele and Kevin and Denise McCoy, with professional guidance by TJ Ernst and the Steier Group.

The parish will celebrate its success with a May 28 Mass with Archbishop George J. Lucas, followed by a party with sloppy Joes in the school’s gym, where the campaign total will be announced.

"It’s just a low-key affair," Father Korte said, "but we’re going to celebrate where we are and what we’ll accomplish over the next few years."

At Mary Our Queen, the trust fund being supported by the combined campaign helps the parish elementary school with tuition assistance, teacher salaries, supplies and other costs, and it helps the parish pay for operating expenses and parish-based religious education for children and adults.

Parishioners seriously considered what they could give and were generous, with many willing to sacrifice over the next few years to help Mary Our Queen and the archdiocese, said Lynn Muse, who co-chaired the "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" campaign with her husband, Brad, and fellow parishioners Phil and Sheryl Fenton, Doug and Kolleen Hoffman and Ed and Kelley Prosser.

Father English agreed. "People stepped up to the plate and contributed."

The timing was right for Mary Our Queen, Muse said.

"We knew as a parish we wanted to embark on a campaign in the near future," said Muse, a parish trustee who is on the parish and finance committees, is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion and a school volunteer.

Muse said the campaign gave her a chance to meet new people, educate them about the campaigns and share her passion for the parish, school and archdiocese. "I think it brought everybody closer together," she said. "We worked for a common cause."

St. Gerald, Mary Our Queen and all the parishes involved in the campaign so far should be proud of their efforts to build up a community of faith, Brommer said.

"They’ve accomplished something very big for their parish and the archdiocese," she said. "They’ve become part of something bigger than themselves."



» $22.8 million has been raised so far.

» 18 parishes participated in the pilot wave.

» 24 parishes participated in the first wave.

» 45 parishes began the second wave this month.

» A third and final wave will begin later this year.


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